Concept of Property in Political Science

The Concept of Property throughout the Ages

Most of us have a fair idea what property means and what the concept of owning property means. However, the concept of property is a rather new phenomenon in the history of humanity if one considers the evolution of humankind from time immemorial to the present times. To put it into perspective, it was only during the time of the Renaissance and the Enlightenment that prominent thinkers came up with the concept of property as a means of ownership and the role of the state in regulating the uses of property. For instance, in many countries before this era, the concept of property was vaguely defined wherein the Kings and the Princes used to regulate who owns how much and where. During the Renaissance, the concept of private property was codified wherein the average person could own property provided he or she paid the requisite duties and the taxes to the state. The concept of property is closely tied with the evolution of the concept of the nation state, as each is synonymous with the other. As a matter of fact, without the umbrella protection of the state, the concept of property does not hold meaning.

The Concept of Property in Different Political Systems

Turning to how the concept of property is understood in different political systems, it is only capitalism that provides explicit means of ownership of property and rights over the land in exchange for taxes and duties. In the erstwhile USSR, which was a communist country, there was no concept of private property and all that was owned by the state. This was the case in China until recently as well wherein the liberalization of the Chinese economy with the advent of “Red Capitalism” made it possible for individuals to own property and at the same time for the state to regulate the ownership. The key aspect here is that the concept of property and the clear titles to the land are the keys to the mystery of capital as without clear directions on who owns what and how much, it is not possible for the capitalists to raise capital pledging the property. This theme would be explored in detail in subsequent articles. It would suffice to state here that unless there is a regulatory mechanism that oversees the proper administration of property, the capitalist system would be unable to function smoothly.

Final Thoughts

Finally, it has become the norm these days to regulate the use of the commons or what is the nature’s gift to humanity. In other words, the air we breathe, the water we drink, the land that is available, and the rivers and seas on which we depend all are known as the commons and hence, there has been a concerted move to ensure that they are properly distributed and accounted for. This is another theme that we would be exploring in subsequent articles. In conclusion, as pointed out earlier, the concept of property is one of the pillars that underpin the capitalist system and hence, it is in the interest of the state to regulate its usage in an effective manner.


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Political Science